How to Prevent Mosquito Breeding in Your Yard

mosquitoes breeding in a tray

During summer, mosquitoes can interrupt our outdoor activities and pose a health risk as they carry diseases like malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus. Preventing mosquitoes from developing before they strike is the best way to protect yourself and your family. Here are simple steps to prevent mosquito breeding in your yard.

Be sure to check out our firsthand experience to learn how standing water and dense vegetation can attract these pesky insects and how to prevent them from breeding in your yard.

How Mosquitoes Breed

Pestgnome mosquito lifecycle illustration

First: Know your enemy. There are four stages in the mosquito life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The entire process takes about seven to 14 days: 

  • Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water. 
  • Mosquito eggs hatch into larvae within 24 to 48 hours. 
  • The larvae develop into pupae after about a week (but this can range from four to 10 days).
  • An adult emerges two to three days later.

How to Prevent Mosquitoes from Breeding

Mosquito control illustration
infographic by Juan Rodriguez

Mosquito-borne illnesses can cause severe health problems, from mild fever to life-threatening conditions. It is crucial to take the necessary steps to decrease mosquito populations and prevent the spread of these diseases.

Eliminate Breeding Sites

Mosquitoes need only a bottle capful of water to lay their eggs, so it’s vital to eliminate any stagnant water in your yard. Regularly check your property and take the following steps to remove breeding sites:

  • Cover it up: Use tight-fitting lids on trash cans and recycling bins. Ensure that cistern and septic tank covers are in good shape. You can also drill drainage holes in your bins and tire swings. Cover ventilation points with fine mesh.
  • Change or empty: You should clean and change the water in pet water bowls, kiddie pools, and bird baths at least once a week. After rainstorms, check and empty flower pots, saucers, tarps, and anything that may hold water.
  • Clear debris: Old tires and junk piles are a safe haven for skeeters. You can either clear debris yourself or consider the cost of a junk removal service to prevent the buildup of decaying material and related items.
  • Check plants: Tree holes and certain flowers, like bromeliads, can hold enough water for mosquitoes to lay eggs. Check for water after rainstorms or use larvicides with the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti).
  • Treat unfiltered water: Keep mosquitoes out of rain barrels with lids or fine mesh, or use mosquito dunks to prevent larvae from developing. For water features, such as koi ponds or fountains, add dunks, mosquitofish, or minnows to help control the population.

Pro Tip: Keep your swimming pool clean and properly chlorinated to prevent larvae.

Maintain Your Landscape

Mosquitoes love to hide from the sun in tall grass and overgrown vegetation, so keeping your lawn and landscape well-maintained is essential to help control their population. Here are some tips for maintaining your landscape:

  • Mow the lawn: Regularly mowing your lawn will not only keep your grass healthy but also eliminate hiding places for adult mosquitoes.
  • Tidy the shrubs: When you trim your bushes, shrubs, and trees, it allows more sunlight in your yard while removing dark, humid spaces that mosquitoes adore.
  • Remove waste: Something to know about yard waste is that piles of leaves, twigs, and fallen branches can hold water and create breeding sites for mosquitoes.
  • Improve drainage: Fill in any low areas if you have an uneven lawn, or install a French drain to prevent water puddles from forming next to your foundation. Regularly clean your rain gutters to prevent water from accumulating.

Guard Your Yard

If mosquitoes continue to linger, consider using traps, foggers, or mosquito sprays for your yard. Some treatments also include a repellent to keep the mosquitoes out and prevent them from breeding. Remember to use caution, as some traps, foggers, and sprays can also harm beneficial insects.

  • Mosquito traps: Most of the best mosquito traps rely on odor to attract mosquitoes and are available at garden supply stores. Alternatively, you can make a simple DIY mosquito trap.
  • Mosquito yard foggers: These foggers release a fine mist of insecticide to kill mosquitoes in your yard. Mosquito yard foggers come in various types and sizes depending on the homeowner’s needs.
  • Mosquito yard sprays: Easy to apply with a handheld sprayer or a hose-end sprayer, the best mosquito yard sprays can give you temporary relief by killing adult mosquitoes before they can breed (or bite) in your yard.

Firsthand Experience: The Mystery of My Mom’s Backyard

harley grandone
Harley Grandone

I’ve always wondered why my mom’s backyard has so many mosquitoes compared to her neighbors’ yards. However, it wasn’t until I started writing blogs for LawnStarter that I discovered some of the reasons behind it.

After researching mosquitoes for numerous articles, I realized that standing water and dense vegetation in a smaller area were two of the culprits that attracted mosquitoes to my mom’s backyard. Rainwater had collected in different spots across the yard, forming puddles on the tarps that covered the outdoor garden furniture, settling in the saucers of the plant pots, and accumulating in the low-lying regions of the backyard that required regrading.

Since mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, all the standing water in her backyard created delightful breeding opportunities for these bothersome insects. I learned that certain species of mosquitoes only need a capful of water to breed. Furthermore, the existing plant material (shrubs, trees, ground cover with weeds) was thick and offered plenty of cover to mosquitoes. This allowed them to hide and avoid the sun during their daily activities.

So, when spring rolled around, we wanted to be ready and prevent any mosquito breeding sites. We took down the tarps, disposed of any objects holding rainwater, and we regraded to level out the sunken areas and prevent water accumulation. We also had that same landscape contractor prune, clean up, and haul away all debris. That season, we noticed remarkably low numbers of mosquitoes buzzing in our ears and biting us.

Harley Grandone

Protect Yourself from Mosquitoes

To protect you and your loved ones, including your furry companions, from mosquito-borne diseases, it is vital to take necessary precautions. Know what attracts mosquitoes to help you protect your family and your furry friends from these dangerous pests.

worker installing mosquito net screen
Worker installing Window Screen
Photo Credit: ronstik / Canva Pro / License

What Attracts Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are attracted to various factors such as odors, heat, and even your blood type. Understand what attracts mosquitoes to reduce the risk of bites and the diseases they spread.

  • Carbon dioxide: Mosquitoes are drawn to the carbon dioxide exhaled by humans and animals.
  • Lactic acid: Released in our sweat, the scent attracts mosquitoes.
  • Sweet smells: Perfumes, scented lotions, and floral fragrances, plus beverages like soda or beer, will also attract mosquitoes.
  • Body heat: Mosquitoes often gravitate toward people with a high body temperature.
  • Blood type: According to a 2004 study, some mosquitoes were more attracted to people with type O blood than others.
  • Clothing colors: Mosquitoes can see contrasting or dark-colored clothes the best.
  • Movement: These pests track movement as it signals a potential victim to the mosquito.

Protect Yourself

It is essential to protect yourself to prevent mosquito bites. Here are a few tips if you want to avoid being a mosquito’s late-night snack:

  • Stay indoors at peak hours: It’s best to stay inside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Use a repellent if you need to be outdoors at these times.
  • Wear protective clothing: Using long-sleeved shirts and pants to cover your skin is best. Mosquitoes can bite through clothing that fits tightly or has a loose weave. Opt for light colors over dark clothing or contrasting colors.
  • Use mosquito repellent: Apply one of the best mosquito repellents on any exposed skin. Choose an insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin. If you prefer an alternative to these chemicals, use a natural mosquito repellent with oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535.
  • Install window screens: Screens on windows and doors will keep mosquitoes out of your home. Replace or repair any damaged screens before mosquito season hits.
  • Use mosquito nets: Ensure your mosquito net is in good condition, secure, and covers the space well. Use these nets around the patio or for effective mosquito control while camping.

Protect Your Pets

Mosquitoes can pose a significant threat to pets by transmitting various diseases to our furry friends. When mosquitoes bite dogs, the primary danger is heartworms, which are often fatal if left untreated. Take the following steps to save your pup and protect your feline friends from mosquito bites.

  • Limit outdoor time: Keep your pets inside during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are out hunting.
  • Use pet-safe repellents: Apply a cat or dog mosquito repellent to your pet, or use a mosquito-repelling pet collar.
  • Change water bowls: Regularly clean and change the water in outdoor pet bowls to prevent larvae from growing.
  • Use a screened-in area: Keep your pets in a screened space to prevent mosquitoes from biting them.
  • Check with your vet: Make sure your pet is up to date on heartworm preventative, or get them tested to start treatment to save you and your pet the heartbreak later.

FAQ: Mosquitoes

How Long do Mosquitoes Live?

Male mosquitoes generally live for about a week, while females can live for several weeks. How long mosquitoes live varies depending on the mosquito species, sex, and environmental conditions.

Do All Mosquitoes Carry Diseases?

No, not all mosquitoes carry diseases. However, it is vital to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites, as some species of mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus, dengue fever, malaria, and Zika virus. 

How Can I Tell if I Have a Mosquito Problem?

If you notice an increase in mosquitoes, especially during dusk and dawn, or find mosquito larvae in standing water sources around your yard, you may have an impending infestation. Use the above tips to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard.

When to Call a Pro

To protect yourself and your family from pesky bloodsuckers, prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your yard. Follow these simple steps to enjoy your time outdoors without worrying about mosquito bites or the diseases they carry. 

If you need professional treatment for your mosquito problems, Pest Gnome can connect you with the best pest control experts in your area.

Main Image Credit: GiovanniSeabra / Canva Pro / License

Raven Wisdom

Raven Wisdom is a writer with a passion for pest control, gardening, sustainable living, and making a positive impact in the world. When she's not defending her garden from critters in the wilds of West Texas, Raven can be found writing, wrangling two kids in a neurodivergent family, and supporting her local animal rescues.